Thursday, 24 May 2012

To Love a diabetic...

To Love a diabetic...
By Katherine Marple
To love a diabetic is to be a doctor. It means helping her to remember her medications. It means driving her for an hour to the only 24 hour pharmacy when she’s gotten the flu and can’t take the Nyquil in the refrigerator. Or driving her to the hospital when the simple flu turns into bronchitis and her blood turns acidic.
To love a diabetic is to be patient. It means knowing that some days she won’t feel good for no visible reason. It means canceling long term plans when suddenly she doesn’t feel well enough to go on a trip. Or waiting to go to bed while she injects her bedtime insulin.
To love a diabetic is to be a priest. It means consoling her when she’s tired and feels like she can’t do it anymore. It means listening and not passing judgment while she tries to figure out her new dosages and makes mistakes. Or, during those tough times, listening to her burial wishes – just in case.
To love a diabetic is to be a guardian. It means standing up for her when strangers accuse her of being a drug addict. It means discreetly asking her friends to keep an eye on her when she’s testing new medications and doesn’t know the reactions to her body yet. Or staying up with her through the night because she’s too afraid to fall asleep where a coma can find her.
To love a diabetic is to not be superficial. It means seeing her bruises as beauty marks. It means caressing the scars across her stomach. Or kissing her dry lips when she is hooked to IVs.
To love a diabetic is to be understanding. It means knowing that she doesn’t mean to get hot tempered when her blood sugars are too high. It means listening to her when she asks to start a family soon. Or donating time and DNA to sciences you don’t fully understand just because she asks you to and because it promises to cure her.
To love a diabetic is to be smart. It means researching new medications even though she never asks you to. It means listening to her explain her new findings in terms that aren’t typical language. Or making her smile when she desperately wants to scream.
To love a diabetic is to be selfless. It means going to a restaurant based off the carbohydrates menu instead of the atmosphere. It means going without dinner when money is tight because you can buy her medication with it instead. Or testing your blood sugar on her new meter to make sure it’s working properly even though you’re terrified of needles.
To love a diabetic is to be brave. It means keeping your chin up while she talks about those scary moments. It means not allowing her medical mistakes to colour your relationship with her emotionally. Or keeping positive spirits even though all of the websites and gatherings tell you she won’t statistically make it past her 40s.
To love a diabetic is not easy. It means putting her medical needs before any other finances. It means worrying every moment that she is properly cared for even when you can’t see her. And it means trusting her life in the hands of so many doctors who don’t understand the full complexities of the disease.
Thank you for loving a diabetic.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


Click for the Diabetes Hero - Sunday 5/20 Link List.
Let’s end our week on a high note and blog about our “Diabetes Hero”. It can be anyone you’d like to recognize or admire, someone you know personally or not, someone with diabetes or maybe a
Type 3. It might be a fabulous endo or CDE. It could be a d-celebrity or role-model. It could be another DOC member. It’s up to you – who is your Diabetes Hero??
OK so final day of blog week 2012 and we're thinking about our hero(s)...I've put the (s) in because I could think of a few people who I'd refer to a hero as far as I'm concerned. My brother and sister who have put up with numerous hospital visits both home and abroad, the friends who have looked past my condition and accepted the person underneath. But when it came down to this is what I decided to write...

Hero(s) 1 - My mum and dad. Never could there have been two more supportive people on the planet! They take time off work to attend hospital appointments with me. Mum attended the pump appointments so that when I had a meltdown 24hours in she could explain things and calm me down. When the pump was new and I over bolused Dad was at the house in minutes to help me and worked from home to make sure I was safe. Short tempers caused by hypos or highs were dealt with and fear of anything needle like was dealt with with care and understanding. As a little one they made sure I experienced everything that other children did and more. We had lovely holidays despite the diabetic baggage and they taught me that being diabetic was just part of my life and that I could still do anything. Not sure I  ever say thank you but I'm sure they know how much they've already done for me and how much I appreciate it.

Hero 2 - Max. A golden retriever with so much attitude he could have been human! Max arrived in Feb 1996 after a family holiday. After trying confidence boosting and negotiating to get me onto a water slide my dad made the mistake of saying go down the slide and you can have anything you want at he bottom - a deal you should never make with a 12 year old!! So at the bottom I  decided I wanted a puppy and Max arrived. he was so clever, he quickly learnt how to smell a hypo and worked out that if he brought lucozade and/or biscuits he would get a biscuit in return. He even taught himself to open a jar of quality street. Without fail my best friend and probably the best canine carer in the world.

Hero 3 - Kevin! The Husband. Kevin and myself met whilst working at Tesco and maybe because diabetes was in his family or maybe because he is just the most amazing person in the world he never thought of my condition as an obstacle of any variety. Within about three days of meeting he'd be around to see my mum for lessons on using my pens and doing BM's and could within two weeks honestly say he could take care of me completely should I need it. He can tell if and when I'm hypo (even by text!) he looks after me when I'm sick and comes to as many hospital appointments as possible. He even understood when he had to come second best to Max. On our first holiday I became very unwell and had to visit a doctor and for four days he brought me food and managed my BM's and insulin - Not even that could put him off. Not surprisingly at our wedding as we took to the dance floor for our first dance I got that cold creepy feeling of a hypo on its way, Kevin took it all in his stride...
There is no husband out there like him, he is loving, supportive and amazing. I love him.

After an exciting 2012 blog week am hoping there will be one next year too, hopefully by then Jasper will be much better at sniffing out hypos and getting biscuits!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Back for the third year, let’s show everyone what life with diabetes looks like! With a nod to the Diabetes 365 project, let’s grab our cameras again and share some more d-related pictures. Post as many or as few as you’d like. Feel free to blog your thoughts on or explanations of your pictures, or leave out the written words and let the pictures speak for themselves.
        From this...

                                               (08/1986 with mum and dad)
                                               (Insulin pump on belt)
                                                     (No explanation!)
                                                  (Pump visible again!)
                                                         (Hen Night)

To this...
                                                  ALL WITH DIABETES...


                 ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Friday, 18 May 2012

What they should know...

Today let’s borrow a topic from a #dsma chat held last September. The tweet asked “What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn’t have diabetes about living with diabetes?”. Let’s do a little advocating and post what we wish people knew about diabetes. Have more than one thing you wish people knew? Go ahead and tell us everything.
Quite an emotional topic for me. Recently I have had quite an upsetting time with other peoples thoughts and opinions on my condition! A complaint about my blood kit has meant a lot of questions have been asked and for various reasons I held back and failed to say anything. So what should those small minded people know?

This isn't something I opted for!! I didn't sign up for it or volunteer it just developed inside me and its horrible some days! Occasionally its possible to forget its there but its for fleeting seconds because EVERYTHING affects my blood sugars, stress, happiness, emotion, exercise, arguments...EVERYTHING (Shoe shopping is a nightmare!).

I'm not a grouchy or argumentative person because I don't like life or people. Its normally because I've got a high BM or am recovering from a low BM or worse still I've been suffering through the night and you've caught me on minus 3 hours sleep.

I can do pretty much anything you can do. It just takes good planning hence if we make plans and they change at the last minute don't be mad or upset that I'm angry/upset - I've planned for this.

If I don't want to do something because my BM is high/low don't judge me, help me, smile and then let me be! I need 5 minutes some days and two hours others to get over a bad BM.

I'm kept alive everyday because I administer insulin and test my blood sugars, if i didn't I'd die. Its that simple. So please try not to be rude or nasty if on occasion I sit at the table and test my blood or change my cannula in public, I'm not ashamed, if you're uncomfortable look the other way. Why should i have to confine myself to an unhygienic toilet to make other people more comfortable?

For my friends it would be something as simple as understanding that although ~I don't let on somedays I'm aware that I'm different. Its nice occasionally for people to show support just because they can.

The main thing that everyone should know as far as I'm concerned 'ignorance IS NOT a reason for intolerance'!!

There are hundreds more things I could say but they ll do for now =)

Oh aside from if you are someone who has complained/thinks about complaining in the future have the nerve to say it to my face and not behind my back!!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Dear Diabetes...

Dear Diabetes,
I have read recently that I should give you a name but nothing seems to fit. By naming you it would be almost an acceptance of the relationship we have. You are by far the most demanding relationship I could ever imagine; when else does someone form a relationship that they never get a break from?! Work colleagues spend their working hours together but then go home separately, we go home together. Brothers and sisters grow up together but even twins eventually gain their independence and lead individual lives, we’re always together. Mother and child are separated even if it s only at bedtime, we’re not. Not even a husband and wife spend twenty=four hours of every day together, we do! Not even the dog gets as much attention as you! 

For the last 27 years and three months you have free loaded inside me. You get more attention than anyone else in y life, you are involved in the thought process of every decision I make. I’d like you to understand that some days the blood testing and the carb counting are a pain. They consume precious hours that I could spend doing anything else. The  endless attention you require for working out insulin and injection sites has been testing at times but I think that battle I may have won when my pump was fitted and you started to allow me to control you more. The cannula change can be difficult but it’s a necessary evil to get on with life so I put up with it. Whilst I’m considering wasted hours why do you react so differently to different types of food? It’s very strange.
You have successfully made sure that in my 28 years and five months of life I have never truly owned that ‘little black bag’ more a handbag big enough for a brick to get everything in. Even nights out are a quandary of what to drink so you don’t get upset. Oh and dresses, how am I supposed to wear a dress when you need to be drip fed with insulin 24hours a day? My pump needs somewhere to sit! On the rare occasion that I do mange a dress and the pump sits somewhere normally in a view it’s a barrage of questions about what it is, people think it’s a pager!!

Let’s think holidays to. Do you know how difficult it is to get into an airport with all the stuff you need? People with small children take less extra baggage than us. I’m also sure that airport security dogs are specially trained to sniff you out!
Also when I’m sick what makes you think you have the right to go bouncing around so that the situation is worse?!  Do you not draw enough attention to us without trying to develop yourself some mates in the form of ketones and glucose? They are NOT our friends.

ALSO a general hypo makes us do irrational things!! Want to try and control that a bit? I mean come on my brother and sister would have a right old laugh telling people the stupid things I might have done! That’s all you that, I’m taking no responsibility for any of it.
When I’m out and about all your requirements draw unwanted attention which I tend to fend off happily as my friend said recently, its better if people know and aren’t afraid of diabetes. To that extent I let the children of family and friends press buttons and get to know my pump, they won’t be afraid of you! But sometimes, just sometimes, people are nasty about you. This hurts me because you’re part of me and for that reason I won’t let anyone pick on you.  

I’m not sure that I ever remember life without you which seems strange but maybe that’s for the best. You’ve become part of me that I try to look upon as a positive quality. We’ve fought like brother and sister from time to time each winning small battles but never the war. I remember vividly the feeling of coming to in hospital after you caused me to fit, bright white lights or not I wasn’t ready to give in to you that easily. For a long time I felt like you were in control and I didn’t know how to cope with that but you now know that Max arrived. As second in command he could sniff a hypo from a fair distance away and better still (for me) could provide lucozade and digestives when needed! He became my best friend and your worst enemy maybe.
But even with you I feel like I’ve experienced life to the full you see my dad almost refuses to acknowledge you, He doesn’t think you should stop me from doing anything and I tend to agree! So together we’ve visited foreign countries (and a couple of strange hospitals), I’ve done nights out and parties and drinks and enjoyed it all. I’ve canoed on Coniston Lake and when you’d had enough eaten hot dogs in the rain to keep you under control. Even if we had to fight the swans off. 

I’ve taken to the air in a wind tunnel to see how good a sky dive would be, not sure you knew whether to push the bloods up or down for that one! Maybe you were in shock. I’ve walked miles, played football and broken bones and you’ve been there every step of the way.
I feel like when we meet new people I introduce you as I would my husband because we’ve been together longer than Kevin and I. Kevin is very good with you, he understands you and thinks about how decisions are going to make you feel. You see he already knew about you before we even met. Kevin took lessons from the best in the business as my mum has known how to control you for years and never lets you defeat her. Some days we wouldn’t make it together if it wasn’t for Cath.

When I started shopping for wedding dresses I thought maybe you’d be a problem, where would the pump sit? Would you behave yourself? You are like a small child some days! But the dress arrived, it was huge and gorgeous and like nothing I’d ever imagined. My pump was given its own special living quarters for the day in a specially made pouch on the inside of the dress; no one would have even guessed it was there! Better still my pump is still a lovely blue one so my something blue was attached to me. You behaved almost all day and to be fair maybe I should have fed you more often, sorry!
We have done so much together over the years that I sometimes forget momentarily that you are here. We’ve managed exams together, careers together, marriage and a hundred and one other things. So you see what I am saying is yes you have invaded me and decided to become a squatter but that’s ok. You make me unique is a special way as you are something I share with a special person from my family, my granddad. He would want me to win the war but for now I’m happy winning the odd battle. I have noticed in the past few years you take great pleasure in trying to stop other bits of me working but I know you are only doing what you are programmed to.  I’ll keep putting up with it.

I know that you will be with me forever and that’s ok but now that max has gone I feel you should know that I have recruited a new weapon in Jasper and I’m sure he will prove just as good at sniffing you out. I want you to know that I intend to enjoy life and no matter what it throws at us we will deal with it together. We’ve got an amazing family and some exceptionally good friends and all though we often react badly to stress we need to stay calm and focus on the future! Whatever our next step might be we doing a good job at the moment of working towards better control even though it’s taking it out of me. There is so much more I could say to you but I think I’ve said enough for now. You’ll never stop me from doing anything really so I’m pretty much inviting you at this point to buckle in and enjoy the ride.
See you in a bit for a BM,


PS – Please try and behave until our next HbA1c check =)

Fantasy Diabetes Device - We've come a long way.

Day 4 - Today let’s tackle an idea inspired by Bennet of Your Diabetes May Vary. Tell us what your Fantasy Diabetes Device would be? Think of your dream blood glucose checker, delivery system for insulin or other meds, magic carb counter, etc etc etc. The sky is the limit – what would you love to see?

What a topic! After thinking about this I took a quick trip to the kitchen cupboard where I tend to hoard things that I don't need anymore and spent twenty minutes considering the past...

Meet early diabetes...

When I was first diagnosed my parents used to use Glucose Sticks and BM stick and a colour coordination system to work out what my BM's were in the region of. Sounds straight forward unless you're trying to pin down a 14month old for a blood or urine sample! I'd imagine it was easier though than trying tom administer insulin...

 The device for administering the insulin is about a rulers length when loaded with a syringe, once its loaded and ready it is placed against he skin and the big red button is pushed! The worst thing about this device is the horrific noise it makes as it administers, the bang sounds like a cap gun being  shot...!
 Not long after starting school a BM kit became available - this was a device that you could put the pre-wiped blood stick in and it would read it for you over sixty seconds to I've a more accurate reading! Although this was a huge development the gun that drew blood was still scary! The metre became available in a range of sizes but this seems to be the only one that's escaped diabetes heaven...
 Sometime around my Junior year maybe when I was 8 or 9 we received a silver device that was smaller, less noisy and more child friendly for administering insulin. WE used this by dropping the filled syringe into the top and then pulling it apart. When pressed against the skin the needle would fire in and then the syringe could be depressed. Painful but better than the previous massive black one!!
 We carried on with this until I was 15 when I was given the option to go onto 'pens'. As at this point I was on four injections a day it seemed to be the best option and so we were given two different coloured ones, one fore background insulin and one for meal times. Although they were much less painful, less scary looking and practically silent it took about two hours for me to manage to get the first injection in because I was so scared of not having a device to do it for me!!
 Around the same time this gorgeous little metre came out! It was compact, the gun hurt less than anything I'd ever encountered before and it all fit into a nice little pouch that I could carry around with me - I still use this metre.
So i was plodding along quite happily in 2006/07 all be it on five injections a day but I was managing some kind of control. As I'd moved into the adult clinic at the hospital  I was struggling to ask for advice when I met my new nurse, Jan. She is amazing! She suggested that I considered the pump as it would give me more control. A definite NO. At that point I didn't like the idea of being attached to something twenty four hours a day. With the help of Jan and my mum I was gradually talked around into thinking about it and eventually signed up to the waiting list in late 2007. When in Jan 2008 my giant box of supplies arrived I thought that I would be carry a brick around with. Instead my lovely little blue pump was just well packed and protected and all its supplies where in with it!

So why is all this relevant to the  Fantasy Diabetes Post? Its relevant because I could wish for a working pancreas, a pump and CBGM that work in partnership, a smaller pump etc...All I really wish is that companies who develop BM Kits and Pump Therapy will keep working at it. I think my pictures show what a massive improvement has taken place in the last 28years and I hope they will carry on doing so...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

One thing to improve...

Day three - One thing to improve

Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at. Today let’s look at the flip-side. We probably all have one thing we could try to do better. Why not make today the day we start working on it. No judgements, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!

A difficult one because no one is perfect! We could all do some things better and when it comes to diabetes I could probably improve on different things on different days. For instance some days I could check what i eat more frequently, other days I could do more exercise, in some hypo situations I could not panic eat and empty the fridge with a nice I'm sure we could all improve,

I can honestly say I have started to attempt at improving my HbA1c level by taking the simple step of keeping a book with my BM's  in and notes about things I might have done or eaten! It sounds easy and my DSN has been telling me to do it for years.

I have also as a result as this started watching what I eat and when! Sounds simple but it will hopefully help improve everything - blood levels, weight, medication, energy levels...

So today what I will say is to contribute to my energy levels and to try and help with everything else I will try and exercise every day even if its just a short walk. It was either this or try to protect my poor insulin pump more which has been through so much in its four years of life that I'm surprised it hasn't given up on me!! I have to date trapped it in the washing machine, the dishwasher and wrapped it around several car wing mirrors!I have converted to longer wires so it lands on the floor just when it falls off, i wear a cover on it in bed so it in protected from the dog, and quite often when I'm out and about have taken to hooking it onto my bra so people don't nudge it off in passing. Maybe its not an ordinary insulin pump... =)


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

One great thing!

Day two - One great thing.

Living with diabetes (or caring for someone who lives with it) sure does take a lot of work, and it’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we aren’t “perfect”. But today it’s time to give ourselves some much deserved credit. Tell us about just one diabetes thing you (or your loved one) does spectacularly! Fasting blood sugar checks, oral meds sorted and ready, something always on hand to treat a low, or anything that you do for diabetes. Nothing is too big or too small to celebrate doing well!

I sat and thought about this post for a while and after much thought I have concluded that the list of things I need to work on is much longer than the list of things I'm good at! However I know i am definitely good at BM's(Blood monitoring). Before going to bed at night I set my alarm for the following morning by working out what time I need to be out and about by, how long I'll need to get ready and 40 minutes built in to allow for medical type stuff! Then its bed time.

When the alarm rings my first thought is BM kit, followed by what do I think my BM might be? How am I feeling? Have I slept well? Once I have found the BM kit i locate my inhaler for my asthma and take that. As I keep all my other tablets in my BM kit (thyroid etc) I take it downstairs and pop the kettle on. Whilst waiting for it to boil I do a BM, take my tablets and note down anything important in my diary. Then I'll have my brew whilst starting to get ready and quite often take Jasper for a walk. This normally wastes the half hour I need to wait before being able to eat.

Following getting ready I always do a BM before driving to make sure I'm OK (normally within 15mins). I do a BM before lunch and if I'm trying to check my basals I'll do one two hours after both breakfast and lunch! Then unless there is a need to drive somewhere I won't test again until dinner time. This is again the same routine of checking before and potentially two hours after a meal.

The other times I always test are before and after exercise, when trying new foods I'll test more frequently to try and understand the break down of the food and post shower/bath as it appears that the heat causes me to dip even though I'm pumpless for a short time! By this time its almost back to bedtime were I will take my inhalers again and the tablets I take before bed and finally before putting the alarm on do one final BM and keep my fingers crossed it is sevenish!

As I presently have a decent hypo awareness I tend to wake in the night should I dip and will then BM and stay awake doing one every 15mins until it is above 6...Some nights are longer than others and on some occasion the dog or my husband (who can tell if I'm hypo by text!!) have woken me prior to me getting awareness so I'm very lucky,

So the one thing I do well -BM's!! At the very least I do 5 a day and I'm now using the information appropriately to improve my A1c.

On a final note what i would like to say is that because I do 5 a day its like second nature to me, to many other people its probably as natural as answering a text message. Due to it being so natural to me I  do a BM literally anywhere, in the car, a park bench, the beach, the dinner table...I once even did it whilst pushing a lock gate on the canal. For this reason I don't apologise to the ignorant people who know nothing about my condition and find my equipment offensive!! If you don't like it look the other way!!

I'm type one diabetic, 27years and three months and strangely I'm damn proud of it!! =)    

Monday, 14 May 2012

Find A Friend...

Today is the first day of Diabetes Blog Week 2012 and the topic of choice is supposed to be find a friend where we talk about the blogs that you follow and the people you have found as a result (I think!).

This is a difficult topic as I don't follow any other 'bloggers' religiously and tend instead to jump between topics i find interesting and twitter/facebook posts. The beauty of diabetes blogging online is that there are hundreds of people who can all share experiences on a regular basis. Up until recently I hadn't appreciated the value of this. I am fortunate that I have a supportive family and some select friends who are very understanding, knowledgable and caring about my diabetes.

However recently I have used the experiences of others and their support to get through a very difficult time. As much as those around me have tried to understand this situation how can they? After what could be considered a personal attack on me over my condition I found that I began questionning people I once considered friends... A comment made about my BM kit left me furious and I found that the person who repeated it dismissed it as unimportant! To them maybe, they dont have to live attached to a machine, taking blood from themselves on a regular basis. Worse still the person refused point blank to tell me where the comment had originated!! I have therefore started to question everyone I trusted or even considered close to me. recent months has allowed me to establish who are true friends and who are fair weather friends...

So why is all this relevant to the 'Find a Friend' topic?

Well its relevant because through blogging comments, Facebook pages for Diabetes UK, Twitter for Diabetes UK and other friends I have made through the hospital I have managed to understand how these comments might have been made and taken out of context or how they might have been made to hurt. I have also learnt that there are opinions that matter and those that don't. Most importantly though it is those who share the condition who can understand the hurt, the fury and the response, so to the blogging world I owe you a huge world of thanks. To my family and a couple of friends (you know who you are) I thank you for listening to the repetative converstaions we have had, the advice and the support! =)

To Karen at Bitter Sweet - this is an amazing idea! Thanks.

To anyone who is reading I hope you enjoy the ramblings I'm putting down here but as I am working towards improved ~HbA1c its time to BM again =)

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Reasons Why...!

An attempt at blogging started by a tweet from @diabetes UK. As I have never understood the concept of blogging I will be practising over the weekend in preparation for Diabetes Blog Week. I apologise in advance to those people on my facebook/twitter pages who maybe dont want to read about my thoughts, annoyances and laughs that I get from my diabetes  (and others ignorance) as this is being fed into both accounts.

This is not something I have done before but it has recently been brought to my attention that there are members of the general public who maybe need to understand how and why people do things they do. There are also people out there who feel comforted to know others are in the same situation as they are. At this point I would like to promote to any diabetic people or partners/family the ip-uk webpage which is a forum of people who share opinions, ideas and advice.

As my blog goes on I will no doubt talk about how I have had help along the way from some wonderful people. I hope you all get to know of the amazing relationship formed between Max (my gorgeous golden retriever until last summer) and myself over the years and the beginnings of a relationship with his sucessor Jasper who is still in that mischievious puppy phase but i'm still holding out hope for! (Both pictured here hopefully)  

So i'm off now to partake in some world of warcraft playing and to think about what I can share in my blogs for the upcoming Diabetes blog week. After 27 years (4 of them on a pump) I can hopefully share something of use or interest to someone!


Testing to see how it all works...!